Historic Site Oconee Station State
Geographic Location: north of Walhalla, SC (34.84607, -83.06996)
Length: 2.7 miles
Difficulty: 4/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: September 2012
Overview: A semi-loop featuring historic Oconee Station and scenic
. Station Creek Falls
Site Information: https://southcarolinaparks.com/oconee-station
Hike Route Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=132120
Directions to the trailhead: From Walhalla, take SR 11 north 6.3 miles to
Oconee Station Road. Turn left on Oconee Station Rd. Take Oconee Station Rd. 2.1 miles to the signed entrance on the right. Turn right to enter the site. Follow the park road to the blacktop parking area at its end, where this hike begins. Note that you can still hike this trail even if the historic site is closed (i.e. in the winter) using the roadside parking area another 0.3 miles further along Oconee Station Rd. Look for the gravel pullout with information boards to the left of the road.
The hike: Located at the base of
, Oconee Station State Historic Site preserves the former site of Oconee Mountain , the place where Oconee Town began. First occupied by the Cherokee, the site constituted one of the Cherokee nation’s southern-most settlements. The town had strategic value due to its location on the trading route between the British colonies to the southeast and the Cherokee nation to the northwest. Oconee County
The Cherokee abandoned
in 1752, but it would be rebuilt as Oconee Station 40 years later when the boundary between the Oconee Town United States and the Cherokee passed through this site. The buildings you see here today are the ones built in 1792. Interestingly, did not come into being until 1868 when it was formed by breaking off a piece of the Pickens District, the namesake of neighboring Oconee County . Pickens County
The site today makes an interesting destination that combines historical structures with natural scenery. The historical structures are the buildings from 1792 Oconee Station, and the natural scenery is 80-foot
. Despite its appeal, this hike often gets overlooked in favor of longer ones at nearby Station Creek Falls . Miss this one at your own displeasure: it is a hidden gem. Oconee State Park
Start by viewing the historic buildings, which are reached by taking the mulch trail exiting uphill from the northwest corner of the parking area. In the clearing at the top of the hill, you will find two structures: a stone blockhouse dating to 1792 used by the
South Carolina militia and the brick 1805 residence of William Richards. The structures are only open for tours on Saturdays and Sundays from , so I could only view them from the outside on my Friday afternoon visit.
|1792 stone blockhouse|
|1805 brick residence|
Very quickly the trail reaches the park’s pond and treads over the pond’s earthen dam. Wildflowers line the warm, sunny trail across the dam in season. Upon reaching the far side of the dam, the trail curves right before making a sweeping 180-degree turn left to begin paralleling the east bank of the pond some 20 feet above the water. Turtles and frogs usually enjoy this type of habitat, but I could detect no activity during my visit here.
|Trail crossing pond's earthen dam|
|Spur trail to falls exits right|
The trail descends moderately as it begins its approach to Station Creek. At 0.9 miles, a newly constructed wooden bench offers a nice place to sit and observe Station Creek’s ravine. This area has an overlook feel to it except that the partially obstructed view is of nothing in particular. Past the bench, the wide trail descends gradually in a meandering fashion as it crosses a couple of tributaries before entering the bottom of Station Creek’s ravine.
|Palmetto Trail exits right|
The ravine tightens considerably as the sound of the waterfall comes within earshot. At 1.5 miles, the trail crosses Station Creek on an easy rock hop less than 0.1 miles before you arrive at the base of
. When I visited this waterfall during a moderate drought, the falls were not that impressive in terms of volume, but the two-level cascade was still very photogenic. The greenery growing in the waterfall add nice accents to the grey rock backdrop, and some rocks near the base of the waterfall make for nice places to sit. This waterfall is the highlight of the hike, so take a few minutes to enjoy the setting. Station Creek Falls
|Station Creek Falls|